Spare no expense

When my son was 2, his preschool teacher was so impressed with his architectural skills that she took Polaroids of the Lego structures he built in class each day. Never had she seen a 2-year-old construct such complex designs. The photos went in his permanent preschool file.

Would that I had signed him up for architect school on the spot, I thought as I listened to town manager Roger Stancil run through the numbers on the proposal to move the library permanently to University Mall. Though mall owner Madison Marquette would handle the renovation, the Town of Chapel Hill had budgeted $750,000 for an architect to “work with” the Madison Marquette architect to make sure the mall library would be aesthetically pleasing. That explains why every architect I know drives a nice car.

Council member Sally Greene worried that “a library in a parking lot” would not be as aesthetically pleasing to users as the one we have now. The people who sit in the dozen or so seats near the windows of the current library certainly don’t want to stare out into a parking lot once they tire of what they are reading. But for $750,000 in architect fees, we should be able to come up with an atrium that is as nice as the one at Appalachian State University. After our college tour there, the atrium pushed ASU to the top of my daughter’s list, knocking Columbia and Harvard to also-ran status.

Council member Jim Ward voiced concerns over parents dropping kids off at the library while the parents go to shop. Many shop owners can empathize: Parents already drop their kids off at the mall and leave. Because the library budget no longer has to include space for a coffee shop or a gift shop for that matter – I’m sure Cameron’s would be happy to sell library coffee cups and bookmarks on commission – some of that space could be used for a child-care corral. In fact, hire some of the teenagers dropped off at the mall by their parents to staff the service.

Council voted to put the library expansion project on hold for 60 days to explore the opportunity at the mall. Stancil was directed to start a tab for the architect immediately. And I’m off to the attic to find my son’s Lego set.
– Nancy Oates

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13 Comments

  1. Runner

     /  December 3, 2010

    What a calamity, parents dropping their kids off at the Library. Next, they’ll want to drop them off at the YMCA or something. Please!

    By the way Mr. Ward, are you afraid that the Mall Library will be so attractive to Chapel Hill residents that they’ll actually use it more than the one hidden in the park? The University Mall Library is a fantastic idea that needs to be embraced and encouraged, not chopped down by 1,000 whiney cuts.

  2. Terri Buckner

     /  December 3, 2010
  3. John Kramer

     /  December 3, 2010

    Typical design fees run from 5 percent of construction cost for new work to 8 percent for renovation. So yes, the fees are too high. But this is Chapel Hill we are talking about and they are way over their heads and do not know any better so the architect can charge whatever they want.

    This is going to be fun to watch, hope their architect and contractor don’t walk all over them, sure sounds like that is where it is heading.

  4. Terri Buckner

     /  December 4, 2010

    How do you know what construction costs are if you don’t have a design to start with? What you’ve presented says that you have to know the final costs before you can start designing (and estimating).

  5. John Kramer

     /  December 4, 2010

    Historical data for similar facilities is used to establish a first budget.

  6. Runner

     /  December 4, 2010

    Mr. Kramer, aka Elvisboy, is just another one of those internet commenting types who complains about everything and offers no constructive commentary. I long ago stopped paying attention to his snarky little comments.

  7. John Kramer

     /  December 4, 2010

    I love you, too runner.

  8. Runner

     /  December 4, 2010

    That might be your first affirmative statement on the internet ever. You’ve got to walk before you can run.

  9. John Kramer

     /  December 5, 2010

    Yes, intolerant liberals everywhere wish i would see the light, or their light, and demonize me and call me negative when I inject reality into their latest fantasy.

    I don’t need to walk or run, i own a car, it is not a Japanese hybrid either, but an 8 cylinder American sedan. Most people around here probably did not think anything other than the Toyota “pious” was for sale any more. Me, i am glad to see all the pious-es in Chapel Hill because that leaves tons of gas for my lead sled.

    God bless you runner.

  10. John Kramer

     /  December 5, 2010

    Yes, intolerant liberals everywhere wish i would see the light, or their light, and demonize me and call me negative when I inject reality into their latest fantasy.

    I don’t need to walk or run, i own a car, it is not a Japanese hybrid either, but an 8 cylinder American sedan. Most people around here probably did not think anything other than the Toyota “pious” was for sale any more. Me, i am glad to see all the pious-es in Chapel Hill because that leaves tons of gas for my lead sled.

    God bless you runner.

  11. Duncan O'Malley

     /  December 5, 2010

    The move to the mall would make the library a lot more accessible to a lot more residents. Isn’t that the first priority?

  12. Runner

     /  December 5, 2010

    Mr. Kramer,

    That was just another bitter post by you. I’ve done my fair share of criticizing our local leaders, but at least I have it in me to praise something I find as good.

    All you’re doing is being that “nattering nabog of negativism”. Bonus points for knowing who coined that term.

  13. Ed Harrison

     /  December 5, 2010

    The correctly spelled quotation is “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Vice President (until forced to resign) Spiro Agnew, spoke the phrase, but did not “coin” it, although many, including the anonymous blog-commenter, may believe he did. Actually, William Safire wrote the speech for Agnew.
    In view of how complicated the library decision is, constructive commentary (based on the currently-available public information) is particularly helpful.

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